Airbus Helicopters (Booth No. 523) is introducing a “pay as you fly” component support program (CSP) for operators of new and used helicopters. The program features “aggressive” flat per-flight-hour charges billed monthly and has a flexible buy-in. It includes customized customer maintenance forecasting. The Airbus CSP will initially be available for all EC120, EC130, AS350, AS355, EC135, EC145, EC155, AS365, AS332 and EC225 models.
The latest example of the stealthy Chengdu J-20 fighter has recently undergone high-speed taxi testing at the company airfield, suggesting that a first flight is imminent, possibly scheduled for this weekend. Thought to be the third flying example of the J-20, the new aircraft is being considered as a true developmental airframe for an operational fighter, and has introduced a number of significant improvements over the two technology demonstrators that preceded it. Many of the changes are measures taken to reduce the type’s radar cross section.
Bell Helicopter (Booth No. 4536) CEO John Garrison said there was never any doubt what the company really planned to call its new light single.
“There’s so much brand equity in the Jet Ranger. It’s phenomenal. It brings tears to people’s eyes. We knew we wanted Jet Ranger. X is the next generation of Jet Ranger.”
Helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca, a Safran company, delivered 984 engines last year and repaired an additional 1,499, resulting in an 8-percent increase in revenues over 2012, chairman and CEO Olivier Andriès reported yesterday at Heli-Expo. He singled out the agreement to supply Arrius 2R engines for Bell Helicopter’s 505 Jet Ranger X, announced at last year’s Paris Air Show, as a milestone for both companies, and an indication of growth to come. “In 75 years of history, the two leading companies the helicopter world had never, ever partnered before.”
Gyronimo’s Performance Pad iPad app combines weight-and-balance and performance calculations to help pilots quickly and accurately plan flights without any tedious paperwork.
Kaman Aerospace (Booth No. 4922) said it is soliciting customer interest here at Heli-Expo to resume production of the civil variant of its K-Max heavy external lift helicopter. The K-Max was certified in 1994, and autonomously piloted models have recently been flying for the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. Civil versions of the aircraft have long been used in construction, firefighting and logging applications.
In the military segment, while clearly concerned with continuing budget constraints, Sikorsky expects to achieve two milestones this year with the first flights of the CH-53K, the latest version of its heavy-lift military transport, and the S-97 Raider.
MD Helicopters unveiled its new MD 530G armed aerial scout helicopter yesterday at Heli-Expo. It also revealed that it is already flying the new model and plans to have it certified in the second quarter, with deliveries slated for the third quarter. The company is now taking orders for the $4- to $5 million single-engine helicopter, which will come standard with Moog’s new weapons system platform.
AgustaWestland (AW) is performing customer demo flights aboard its prototype tiltrotor AW609 this week at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, Calif., but with the aircraft still early in the certification process few potential customers qualified to get on board. The FAA requires such passengers to be appropriately rated rotorcraft pilots, undergo simulator training in the company’s AW609 simulator, conduct a familiarization flight in the aircraft and receive a second-in-command rating.
Waypoint Leasing Services placed orders with Airbus Helicopters for 12 EC225s and 25 EC145T2s yesterday at Heli-Expo. Deliveries will commence this year and continue through 2017. Financial details of the order were not disclosed. Waypoint purchased two EC225s last year that are currently leased for offshore oil and gas operations in Australia. The helicopter leasing firm has $375 million in financing from two family funds and an additional $325 million in credit from Credit Suisse, CIT Bank and SunTrust.